In the Awad family's encampment.
The same week we were warned of incoming rain from Eilat, and a few drops dripped on our heads without apologizing, the most beautiful day of the year arrived.
Blue skies, green hills, happy sheep, shepherd-children and we the escorts.
In the encampment are two families of two brothers. Opposite, on a hill across the road to the east, sits the Maskiot settlement.
To the south of them is the outpost of "Israel":
As the Awad family members navigate between their enemies and intruders, they speak sparingly about the violent event they experienced.
Ein al Hilweh: laundry day
Ein al Hilweh: The little shepherds at the exit to the pasture
We accompanied both families’ herds. The adults stayed to tend to their homes. Ali, who married during the COVID period without ceremony, is building a residence for his small family. And Mahend who is already cradling a seven-month-old baby also stayed home to engage in other jobs.
Accompanying shepherds in Ein al Hilweh
And so a 14-year-old shepherd manages the herd of Mahend and us throughout the day. Two children aged 12 and 9 who look small for their age, run Ali's herd, and they know every trail and stone and the language of the shepherds. 14-year-old Ahmad and the donkey with him, and lots of bell chimes and jingles in the background are floating up and down mostly down in the green grass and bushes of the valley.
Accompanying shepherds in Ein al Hilweh: a small campfire for tea
Today they chose an area where there is no danger of clashes. Going after the herd. Everything is green and edible, at noon they light a small fire to boil water for sweet tea, fresh pita, tuna and avocado, and make sure we eat and drink. Sabi takes care of the dogs fighting over a piece of pita and tuna. They tell us a little about their lives. Two are studying at a school in al-Aqaba. One stopped studying after fourth grade and stayed to help graze at home. I admire their independence, mastering the secrets of nature and caring for the herd. Israeli children their age are probably glued to some screen or another at this time.
They will continue the grazing until about 2 pm and we retire at 12 o'clock, get back in the car and drive to visit friends.